The Winds of Change Blow Into Lackawanna County
Study commission convenes first organizational meeting.
The newly elected Government Study Commission comprised of Robert Weber, Mary Jo Sheridan, Marilyn Ruane, Chuck Volpe, David Wenzel, Jerry Notarianni, and Michael Giannetta conducted their first meeting at the Loyola Science Center on the campus of the University of Scranton, on Thursday, June 27.
The study commission is tasked with reviewing Lackawanna County’s current three-commissioner form of government, researching whether other forms of government would be more effective in the future, and closely reviewing the assembled information. It will then present to the voters of the county its final recommendation as to what type of government it feels will best suit and represent the citizens of Lackawanna County. Nine months have been allotted for this process.
After a brief introductory statement by Chuck Volpe, Attorney Frank Ruggerrio laid out for the commission the tasks at hand, with the first order of business being the election of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer. The results: Chairman—Chuck Volpe; Vice-Chairman—David Wenzel; Secretary—Mike Gianetta; and Treasurer—Mary Jo Sheridan. Attorney Frank Ruggerrio was appointed General Counsel to the Commission.
Three standing committees were also formed: the Budget Committee, the Program/Scheduling Committee, and the Districting Committee.
Making up the Budget Committee are Jerry Notarianni, Marilyn Ruane, and Mary Jo Sheridan. Comprising the Program/Scheduling Committee are David Wenzel, Marilyn Ruane, and Michael Giannetta, and the Districting Committee consists of Robert Weber, Jerry Notarianni, and Chuck Volpe.
The primary task of the Budget Committee will be to research and calculate all of the anticipated commission expenses (transcription, publication, etc.), and to keep said expenses as low as possible. The Program/Scheduling Committee will be responsible for all aspects of the planning and execution of both private meetings and public hearings, as well as the coordinating of any guest speakers for said hearings. The objective of the Districting Committee will be to examine how the lines for regions/municipalities within the County would be best drawn, should a new system of government containing a legislative council elected by district or region be chosen.
These separate committees will gather information and meet independently—privately—for the next 60 days, at which point the entire Government Study Commission will reconvene to discuss all findings at a subsequent public hearing in early September.
All commission meetings will be open to the public, and their dates and times will be published one week prior in the Scranton Times-Tribune, as well as on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Independent Gazette website. For those who cannot attend, transcriptions of all meeting minutes will be made available. Also, since citizens have expressed great concern about possibly having to miss meetings, requesting them to be available for viewing, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Independent Gazette will be live-streaming and then archiving video of each commission meeting on our website (www.wbindependentgazette.com).
Several members of the commission spoke freely about their individual backgrounds, experience in government, and intent for the upcoming months of commission work. Chairman Volpe gave a summation, stating, “Everybody here, including me, is open-minded. Every idea that I have, and I’ve always believed that anybody has, should be open to challenge and examination. And I feel that way very strongly, so we’re going to have all interested parties come in and speak freely. Anybody that feels there is something that needs to be heard will be heard, and we will take what we believe is the best course for what the people of Lackawanna County asked us to do, and that should be our compass, if you will.”
Many citizens were in attendance at the June 27 inaugural meeting, and before its conclusion were able to ask questions and voice their thoughts. Andrea Mulrine, of the League of Women Voters, expressed, “I’d like to first say, ‘thank you’ to the commissioners. [As Volpe stated earlier] ‘Free is better than cheap.’ You are here free this evening, and will be serving free, to the benefit of the taxpayers for the term of your office here, so thank you for your commitment to democracy and to Lackawanna County. We do appreciate that.”